Ensure High Performance with Smart Performance Reviews

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Ensure High Performance with Smart Performance Reviews

As an employer, it’s important to keep tabs on your employees’ performance so you can ascertain who’s excelling, who’s consistently pulling their weight, who’s experiencing challenges and who may be floundering. As an employee, it’s important to have an idea of how the quality of your work is perceived by management and the degree to which it is appreciated. A well-conducted performance review can provide all the intel necessary to inform all concerned.

What is a performance review?

Most performance reviews consist of a written report evaluating the quality of an employee’s work over a period of time, followed up by a meeting to discuss the details. Performance reviews are usually conducted once or twice a year, depending upon the needs and resources of the business.

Please note that a performance review is a professional “report card” but it should not be the only feedback an employee receives on how he or she is doing on the job. Indeed, it’s very important to provide regular feedback to employees throughout the year. This will help employer and employee alike to nip potential problems in the bud, communicate expectations and set goals. It’s also important to demonstrate consistent appreciation for those employees who are crushing it, providing motivation for them to keep up the good work. When actual review time arrives, it should serve as a summary of performance throughout the past cycle without surprises.

Crafting a Smart Performance Review

A performance review - a meaningful, helpful one, that is - takes time and effort to put together. It can take hours to collect the information needed to compile a comprehensive review for each employee. To help you make the most of those hours, follow some best practices, including:

  • Determine what qualities a good employee demonstrates. Devise a set of metrics to be measured so that each employee is judged on the same criteria. Specifically, what qualities are you looking to foster and applaud in your employees? Spell them out. They could include things like: demonstrates integrity, leads with authority, reports meticulously, thinks creatively, operates effectively. Follow up these accolades with particular examples from the workplace. Remember to account for improvement, too; when it’s noted, be certain to mention it in your review. If you encounter difficulty determining your company’s performance metrics, look into performance review software - it may help you identify those which are most pertinent to your situation and goals.
  • Monitor and take notes of employee performance constantly. Collect data and specific examples consistently so the review accurately reflects the total spectrum of the employee’s performance - not just a snapshot of several random days.
  • Explain issues with great specificity and clarity. Define the issues being monitored in the report, then explain why or how the employee missed the desired mark. A review is less than effective if it fails to address issues in detail - and it won’t help him/her improve.
  • Don’t gloss over negative issues. Nothing will improve by ignoring a problem. It can be difficult to be completely honest when delivering criticism but doing so with tact and empathy will help the employee accept the critique more easily without becoming defensive. This is an apt time to suggest ways to improve weaknesses and change bad habits, rather than blaming or complaining.
  • Remember even great employees have room for improvement. An employee who believes he/she has reached the pinnacle will just coast along. Everyone is more motivated (and satisfied at work) when they feel a bit challenged. Help your superstars reach just a little higher so they won’t get bored and leave your employ for a company where they see greater opportunity for career growth and satisfaction.
  • The in-person follow up meeting is more important than the report. The follow up meeting is your opportunity to really dig into the content of the report, provide further detail and connect with the employee. Schedule a generous amount of time to conduct each of these meetings, preferably off site so you’ll both feel more comfortable speaking frankly. Take this face-to-face opportunity to discuss shortcomings, inefficiencies, personnel conflicts, detrimental behaviors… any issues that could be hampering the employee from better performance. It’s completely appropriate to propose or ask for commitments so the employee understands that it is critical to maintaining job status that his/her performance improves in tangible, measurable ways. These follow up meetings also provide a chance to personally and heartily congratulate an employee who goes above and beyond in their work. No matter the status of the employee’s review, make this meeting, as much as possible, a positive one, highlighting opportunity for improvement and growth with the company. Both you and the employee should leave the meeting with a thorough understanding of where you each stand and what is expected moving forward.

As you can see, performance reviews are valuable to both employers and their employees as a means of bottom-line communication. Employees who have a strong sense of where they stand in the company are more highly satisfied. The results of performance reviews often factor in to an employee raise or promotion, so performing them with enthusiasm and purpose is in everyone’s best interest.

How do you conduct employee reviews?

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